The Post, like many papers, regularly publishes a supplement which is supposed to be a guide for people who are moving into the area. One of the features of that section is education reporter Jay Mathews’ guide to picking a school for newcomers with children. He offers ten suggestions, most of which are actually pretty good.
Buy an expensive house and you can be almost sure that the local school will be good.
In this area that is probably true. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that particular school will be good for all kids.
Don’t worry about elementary school.
That may sound rather absurd but not when you read his qualification. Mathews’ point is that any parent who is doing research on finding a good school for their kids is probably going to be more of an influence on their education than is the school. Ok, not an entirely convincing argument for ignoring the qualities of the school but he is right.
There are no good middle schools.
A little extreme, but having taught middle school I agree with Mathews’ assessment that the level is largely a mess, both because of the transitional nature of the kids (hormonally and otherwise) and because few school systems do it well. Most treat the level as a miniature high school rather than a true transition between elementary and high.
Look for challenging high schools.
Of course Mathews must throw in a pitch for his ridiculous "challenge index".
Listen to your kids.
Listen to your heart.
Attending school is as much an emotional experience as an intellectual one, for both kids and parents. That’s not always a good thing, but it’s true.